Third Sunday of Easter
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: April 26, 2020
What is a true home? We can live in a house, without it being a home. We can live with others, without it being a home. We can enter a church, without it being a home. A true home is where we experience unconditional love, peace, support, a sense of being where we belong.
During this Covid self-distancing and isolating, perhaps what is most difficult for many is the loss of our home. Many grandparents are telling me that the most difficult thing for them is that they cannot be with grandchildren and often unable to hug them. Others are missing being able to go to pray in their church, which is a spiritual home for them. Phone calls and on-line virtual contacts are helpful. But, they cannot fully replace the real presence of family and friends and parishioners. For many of us, it might feel like being in exile.
Our second reading this Sunday from the First Letter of Peter speaks of living “during the time of your exile.” We are reminded that during this life we are all in exile from our true home. We have glimpses and signs of that true home, but it is never full, and it is of course, only temporary. We experience that feeling at the time of the death of a loved one. Then we are reminded in a hard way that this life is temporary, that our love in this life comes to an end. These times can remind us that we are pilgrims, on a journey to our true home. It can help us to live in a wiser way in this life.
After the death of Jesus, the disciples struggled to see a way forward. They were sad, grieving and lost. The story of the road to Emmaus in Luke’s Gospel offers an insight into the experience of the first disciples. The way in which Jesus opened the Scriptures for them so that their “hearts were burning within.” The way in which Jesus was recognized by them was in the “breaking of the bread.” Though they were exiles, as pilgrims on the way, Jesus was walking with them.
Jesus is also walking with us along the way. Listening to us, opening the Scriptures for our hearts, present with us in the breaking of the bread. Like those disciples, we need to pray in our hearts, “stay with us.” Invite Jesus to remain with us. Just close our eyes and ask Jesus into our hearts.
Yes, we are exiles in this life, we are pilgrims on the way to a true home. But, we are not alone on this journey, the Risen Lord Jesus walks with us along the way. Like the first disciples on that road to Emmaus, we need to invite Jesus to “stay with us.”
In the Eucharist we celebrate that sign of the Eternal Banquet. In this time of self-distancing, this time when many are living alone, when we cannot gather for the “breaking of the bread” in the Eucharist, we need to pay attention to recognize the ways Jesus is walking with us. We are reminded that we are on the way to our true and eternal home.
In Heaven there will be no self-distancing, no isolation. There the Living God will take us home with an eternal embrace, an everlasting hug.